Home birth essentials

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Below is a list for the home birth that I have compiled from books (see Pregnancy and labour resources), as well as from the information provided by my midwife, my doula, and the prenatal classes. This list will differ depending on your location and any specific requirements of your midwife (check with them for what their list is). If you find the list somewhat overwhelming, there are places from which you can order home birth kits – it might actually be cheaper than trying to track down each item on its own. In Canada, Mama Goddess Birth Shop carries a good selection of birth kits and related supplies.

Home birth essentials

  1. Old linens that you do not mind staining. Bed sheets – 2, towels – 4-6, washcloths to be used as perineum compresses – 10 small ones (10x10cm is good). For the washcloths, you can buy a towel and cut it up into smaller pieces. No need to get new sheets and towels – ask your friends to donate some old ones or pick some up at a second-hand store.
  2. You can get a few inexpensive yoga mats to provide for extra cushioning on the floor. Cover the yoga mats with a plastic sheet and a bed sheet.
  3. Plastic sheet or two to protect your bed and/or floor.
  4. Lip balm – your lips will get very dry in labour.
  5. Hot water bottle or heating pad.
  6. Container for the placenta (a large ice cream or yogurt container is good). Placenta makes for a good fertilizer, hence the tradition of planting a tree and burying the placenta under it.
  7. Large garbage bags (1 for garbage and 1 for laundry).
  8. Cotton underpads, so the bed is kept clean.
  9. Sanitary pads (maxi pads), large size, to soak up postpartum bleeding. To help with perineum healing, soak a few of the pads in witch hazel and freeze them before labour. They will help reduce perineal swelling postpartum.
  10. Flashlight for the midwife if the lighting is dim.
  11. Small hand mirror for the midwife if you are in a position making it difficult for them to see the baby’s head.
  12. Bowl that will contain water for compresses.
  13. Kleenex, toilet paper, or paper towels.
  14. Thermometer.
  15. Squirt bottle (also known as perineum/peri bottle) for rinsing the perineum after the labour.
  16. Knee-high comfortable socks – feet do get cold in labour.
  17. Sitz bath and perineal herbs to aid in perineal healing postpartum.
  18. Lots of pillows.
  19. Receiving blankets for the baby (warmed up in the dryer before delivery if possible).
  20. Outfit for the baby – a sleeper and an undershirt.
  21. Warm baby blanket, hat, diapers. Even if you are set on using cloth diapers, get 1 pack of disposables for the first few days. Meconium is dark and hard to get out of cloth.
  22. Energizing drinks: fruit juices, Gatorade, Emergen-C, etc.
  23. Bendable straws.
  24. Fresh fruit, light snacks for the mother.
  25. Food for the birthing group (bagels + cream cheese, soup, coffee).
  26. Oil for massage.
  27. Camera with a spare battery.
  28. Music, candles, aromatherapy if desired.
  29. Any birth art you might want to focus on during labour.

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